‘When you’re Governor for 8 Years you Can’t Account for Every Kobo’- Bukar Ibrahim

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Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim (APC, Yobe East) is a two-term governor of Yobe State. He is now the chairman, Senate committee on ecology and climate change. He sat for an interview with newsmen to discuss various topics including the APC led government and the ongoing Saraki trial.
You can read excerpts below
As one of the advocates of the Northeast Development Commission, what benefit will it bring to the people? 
The Northeast Development Commission, when established, will be a permanent body just like the Niger Delta Development Commission. It will attract budgetary attention and allocation every year. We have gone through the first reading and second reading, what remains is the third reading and passage of the bill.
Fortunately, there has not been any opposition from anybody on this commission. So, it is just a matter of patience and things will be alright.
What is your take on the ongoing trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki? 
Well, the Saraki saga is an unfortunate thing. The saga is a saga; it will still continue. The court will definitely make its pronouncement. Whatever the court decides, we will obey. The worst that could happen is to go to the Supreme Court where everything ends. But I can assure you that 99 percent of senators are behind Saraki for the simple reason that we are all human beings, and we do make mistakes.
When you are a governor for eight years, there is no way you can account for every kobo. So, if anybody wants to investigate you thoroughly, he will find a fault here and there. It may not necessarily be falsehood, or that you intended in a way to harm the economy, or intended to be a financial crime as being speculated.
Do you believe that the trial is politically motivated?
I believed so. But politically motivated from which angle? It looks like a local political motivation from Kwara. Definitely President Muhammadu Buhari has no hand, and definitely the federal government of Nigeria did not initiate it. It was local politics in Ilorin. People made complaints; they gave the details of what they thought Saraki had and he didn’t declare, that was how EFCC came in and started investigating.
Will it be right to say that former governors in the Senate are in solidarity with Saraki? 
Of course yes! You know that there are so many other former governors who are in the same shoes with Saraki; whose trials have been initiated, but they were not publicised like that of Saraki, because he is the Senate president. Almost every former governor in the Senate with the exception of Bukar Abba Ibrahim has one case or the other with the EFCC or CCT.
It’s not easy to fight corruption especially when it comes to individuals; that is why those of us do believe that corruption can best be dealt with through institutions. Let’s strengthen our institutions, stop giving and taking bribes. Institutional fight of corruption is the best fight we can have as a nation. It has begun, and it will continue for a very long time.
The negative aspect of corruption is that people take the money outside the country; they will go and spend it elsewhere so that we will all miss the opportunity for development. If they can steal and spend it within Nigeria, Nigerians will benefit, but when they take it out, we will lose as a nation. That is the most terrible aspect of corruption. 
There is fear that if the court verdict doesn’t favour Saraki, PDP will take control of the Senate. Do you foresee that?
How? Why? The APC is still in the majority whether Saraki is in or out. There is no way PDP can take over Senate presidency with the presence of over 60 senators from APC against 50 PDP senators. There is just no way.
It’s not as if we are against Ike Ekweremadu in any way, he is a good legislator. I don’t mind him continuing to be deputy Senate president, because he is a very decent human being. But there is no way the leadership will be taken over by PDP.
When you aspired to be president with Buhari, you said he was unsellable; has anything changed now? 
I absolutely believed in Buhari and his leadership. He has been tested, tried and found to be a worthy leader. He is a leader who is incorruptible, honest, transparent and straightforward and a leader who will tell you direct as he knows and understands it. Beside, at that time I wanted to be president, do you want me to be praising Buhari or what?
Is it because you are now in the same political party that you are praising him? 
No, we were in the same political party when I stepped down for him, and condemned him. Because I wanted to be president, I needed to get something against him, no matter how minute. But now, we are on the same page, the same party and I really trust him.
Nigerians have been complaining of suffering since the coming of the APC administration. What do you think is the problem? 
When things go wrong for a very long period of time, improving them and bringing normalcy will never be easy; it takes time. President Muhammadu Buhari has collected, and he has now in his custody over N2.5 trillion from people who, with impunity, stole our money and he is still collecting.
What is now delaying things is the lack of assenting the budget bill. It will be illegal for the president to spend any money without appropriation. He is waiting for appropriation, and I understand today that by next week he will sign the budget, which will become a law. Once it becomes law, Buhari will be the most anxious to implement it.
I know the kind of hardship people are going through. We, the elected people, know how it bites our pockets. Every day, from Monday to Friday, I have to send out from N300,000 to N400,000 to people in dire need in my constituency and other areas. I believe other legislators are also under the same problem. So, our hope is that things will be better very soon, Insha Allah.
There is this rumour that Governor Gaidam will contest your position having come from the same zone. Will you contest with him? 
Well, 2019 is far away from now. I haven’t thought of it at all, but I can assure you that if the present governor wants to have the senatorial seat in 2019, it is all his. I have had enough. I have made my contributions; I have made my point. I have a lot of other things to do, particularly educating my children, taking care of my farm, my constituency, my state and appearing in national affairs.
So, I don’t think there is going to be any controversy at all. If he wants it, I will hand over to him, and if he doesn’t want it, I will take it. Definitely I will not have primary election with Governor Ibrahim Gaidam not to talk about having election again in the PDP.
I will never be in the PDP. Of course I will always oppose PDP because they are on the right wing politics and I am always at the left wing politics, whether slightly or further down.
How possible would it be for you to survive without politics? 
I started politics right from primary school like Malam Aminu Kano. I have been in politics for the last 60 years, on and off, so I don’t intend to leave it till I die, and I will continue to contribute till I die, because no human being will live forever.

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Benue Blog Portal: ‘When you’re Governor for 8 Years you Can’t Account for Every Kobo’- Bukar Ibrahim
‘When you’re Governor for 8 Years you Can’t Account for Every Kobo’- Bukar Ibrahim
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